Erin, Wis. – A change in strategy resulted in a change of fortune for Harris English Wednesday in a first-round match at the 111th U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills
Thanks to a flurry of birdies, English, 21, of Thomasville, Ga., dispatched a stubborn Andrew Yun, of Chandler, Ariz., 3 and 1, in the first match completed at the weather-plagued championship that has been delayed twice in three days by inclement weather.
He played well. I had to play better, and, fortunately, I was able to get some putts to drop, said English, who turned a 2-hole deficit around thanks to five birdies in a seven-hole stretch. It was a pretty impeccable round of golf for both of us, really.
English, who won the Nationwide Tour’s Children’s Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, last month and has been selected to represent the USA at next month's Walker Cup Match, said he decided to get more aggressive when Yun, 20, a sophomore at Stanford, showed no signs of ceasing an impressive display of golf. He was three under through eight holes and 2 up on English before the recent University of Georgia grad and reigning Southern Amateur champ found another gear.
A 30-foot birdie at the ninth hole was followed by a conceded birdie at the par-4 10th when English laced a 6-iron from 183 yards to within 1 foot of the hole. Just like that English was back to all square.
Nine and 10 definitely turned it all around, said English, who called his approach into the 10th his shot of the day. I had to change my game plan once Andrew got ahead of me. He’s a great player, and he wasn’t making any mistakes. I was lucky, but I also hit some good shots.
A third birdie in a row from 6 feet at the 11th gave English his first lead of the day, and he converted from 6 feet at 13 and 5 feet at 15 to go 2 up. Yun kept from falling further behind when he topped English from 3 feet for birdie at the par-3 13th.
There isn’t much to say except Harris let his clubs do the talking, Yun said. It’s kind of bittersweet, but if I was going to get beat, this is the way you want to get beat.
English almost put the match away on the par-3 16th when his 7-iron from 192 yards landed 10 feet in front of the hole and grazed the hole for a near ace. The two men halved with pars. But matters were settled on No. 17 when Yun, after pushing a drive into the right rough, came up short of the green and couldn’t get up and down. Yun’s lone bogey of the round sent English into the second round of the Amateur for the second time.
English will play either medalist Gregor Main or Bobby Leopold Thursday afternoon.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose material has previously appeared on USGA websites.